Pyara Kerketta Foundation

adivasi languages

We were, we are, and we shall.

Jharkhand and the adjacent parts of west Bengal, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh, historically known as Greater Jharkhand, is a step-plateau full of hills, forests and minerals deposits. The indigenous people living in this region are mostly ' Adivasi's (Scheduled Tribes) and 'Sadan's, the non-tribes living here since centuries. These people linguistically belong to three major groups – Austro-Asiatic, Dravidian and Nag-Aryan. Munda, Santal, Ho, Kharia, Juang, Bhumij, Birhor, Asur, Korwa etc. belong to the Austro-Asiatic group and the Kurux (Oraon), Malto, Kisan, Khendro etc. to the Dravidian group. Nagpuri (Sadri), Kurmali, Khortha, Panchpargania etc., spoken by the Sadan's belong to the Nag-Aryan group.

The first group includes languages like Mundari, Snathali, Ho, Kharia, Bhumij, Birhor, Turi and Asuri; in the second come Kudukh (Oraon), Malto, Kisan, Berga, Dhangari, Khendroi ; and in third group are Nagpuri, Kurmali, Khortha, Panchpargania, Tamadia, Surgujia, Domali, Gaunli, Ganwari etc. which are generally called 'Sadani' or 'Sadari'. The roots of all these three groups of languages are very deep and have their histories in this region; though in this way, in the tradition of the development of the nationality, they have not been studied as yet. Being independent, they have been very intimately linked and influenced by one another.

But at present the traditional culture of Jharkhand is passing through a very critical phase. Without caring for its identity, rulers are forcing it to the domain of exploitative 'mainstream'. Now, it is feared that it will not be able to survive long. It is facing a serious crisis -- the crisis of identity and existence. If proper care is not taken promptly, it will face extinction. The main factors which are leading it to this pathetic situation are (a) colonial rule, (b) abrupt uncongenial development plans, (c) land alienation and brutal exploitation, (d) hatred towards the indigenous culture and (e) finance capital and capitalism.

Looking into this dangerous situation our elders have been trying to make our people aware of the facts which can emancipate them from this state of affairs. They have realised that this awareness can only be achieved through the mother tongue or the native languages which we speak and understand. Our fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters living in remote villages in the lap of forest and hills cannot undersand Hindi or English. They will never be able to express their experiences and ideas through other languages. Hence, there is an endeavour to revive and strengthen our languages and culure. In fact we are passing through a period of cultural renaissance which aims at social, cultural and economic reconstruction of the region.

(source : 'Cultural Jharkhand : Problems and Prospects' by Dr. B.P. Keshari)

We are all fighting, not for ourselves, for Mother Earth.